The Grenfell Tower inquiry has seen photos of the walls inside the high-rise where fire personnel had scrawled details including flat numbers and where people were trapped.
The handwritten notes and grids were part of a desperate bid to co-ordinate rescues and get an overview of the dozens of calls seeking fire survival guidance from residents trapped inside the burning building.
Brien O’Keeffe ran the operational bridgehead – or safe-air space – on June 14 last year, marshalling firefighters and processing information from 999 calls from those inside.
Mr O’Keeffe said he recalled drawing a simplified diagram of the tower but could not be sure that he had produced the one shown in the photograph displayed.
Mr O’Keeffe said he had used a cross to show a flat that had been searched or where a deceased resident had been found, and diagonal lines to indicate how many people were in a location awaiting rescue.
In one photograph, what appears to be the phrase ‘dead body’ could be seen scrawled onto a bright green wall on the ground floor.
When the bridgehead was moved down to the base of the tower, fire personnel took photographs of the walls so they could transfer the valuable information, the inquiry heard.
Mr O’Keeffe told the inquiry: ‘The amount of writing that was going up on the wall was quite considerable. I felt it was too much trying to brief crews who were quite stressed before they went up there so what I drew was a picture of a tower, like a pictogram, as simply as I could.’
Mr O’Keeffe recalled being ‘amazed’ at the scale of the fire when he was showed mobile phone footage of the building while on the bridgehead.
He said: ‘It shocked us. At this point we were focused on our jobs of command and control and search and rescue and to see the whole building alight just stunned us.’
Asked if he had ever encountered something similar before, he replied: ‘No, never. I have never been in a building that was entirely alight before.’
Asked if he felt the incident commanders outside the tower had not been keeping him informed about the fire’s progress, he said: ‘I would not say that, it was just that we did not have a visual.’